Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Moon Over Manifest

The Newbery Award for this past year went to Clare Vanderpool's Moon over Manifest.  I just got it a couple of weeks ago and read it very quickly.  It is one of those stories that you have to keep on reading until it is finished - all other non-essential things can wait.

This is a story about Abilene Tucker who has lived life hopping on and off trains and living in and out of every city.  But this summer her father, Gideon, sends her back to live in Manifest - the town where he grew up.  Abilene has what she calls "universals" - because every town has them - the kids that think they are better than others, the ones that are poor, and the mix in between.  But in Manifest, Abilene learns beyond the "universals" and sees what lies in between.  

The story moves between the present - 1936, the Depression - and when her father lived there - around 1917.  The writing is superb and as the story unfolds we see a town of immigrants - friends, foes, pranksters and family - and what tears them apart and brings them together.  And in the process, Abilene unfolds the mystery of her father, and ultimately herself, with the help of Miss Sadie the diviner.  

This is a very well written story that is fun to read as the mystery of the town unfolds.  This is Clare Vanderpool's first novel, and it is impressive.  Her website reads as though she is talking to her best friend, which is very endearing.  I would say this book targets children 13ish and older and is a great summertime read.  

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